Ian Hongell - Winemaker of the Year 2022 Finalist
In the space of less than five years, Ian Hongell has transformed one of the leading estates of the Barossa and has elevated its vines and its wines to hitherto unseen heights. A grower and winemaker with tremendous depth of experience, he embodies a restless fanaticism to always strive harder, tweaking the finer details to bring out the best in his team, his vines and his wines. Ian is a deep thinker who has fundamentally challenged my own preconceptions about red winemaking in a warm climate. He contrasts his insightful and considered approach with a down-to-earth common sense that builds firm bonds with his winemaking and viticultural teams, his growers and vineyards. After almost two decades at Peter Lehmann Wines, ‘Honky’ clearly has inherited Peter Lehmann’s tremendous loyalty and devotion to the Barossa and its people
2016 The Laird
Highest Scored Barossa Valley Shiraz
From the 2ha dry-grown Gnadenfrei vineyard in Marananga. Vines are low yielding and tended by hand. Matured 36 months in new French oak barriques. Barossa shiraz on another scale, every detail exploded into larger-than-life proportions. Impenetrable black. Deeper presence of black plum, licorice and prune, more exotic old-vine spice, more smoky dark chocolate, more mineral tannin, more spirity alcohol, more coal dust, engine oil and unbridled horsepower. To achieve all this with profound persistence and consummate integrity is where The Laird leaves all other overpowered pretenders in its dust. The most spectacular monument to the sheer might of Barossa shiraz.
98/2% shiraz/viognier; blend of 6 vineyards across 6 districts spanning the Barossa floor. Matured 30 months in 50% new French oak barriques. The full might of the 2018 harvest is rolled up in RunRig. A full purple hue heralds dense layers of spicy dark berry fruits, subtly accented by the orange/apricot aromas of a judicious touch of viognier. French oak rises to the occasion with dark chocolate presence and great depth of firm, fine tannins. It concludes long and generous with sweet, warm alcohol. For lovers of bold Barossa.
2018 Les Amis
100% dry-grown single-vineyard grenache from Greenock. Matured 20 months in (50% new) French oak barriques. Monumental grenache of towering stature and enduring longevity. Deep wells of warm, spicy black fruits hover until kingdom come. Intricate, strong, slatey tannins mirror ancient geology. It completely laps up 50% new French oak, reinforcing spicy black density, shoring its scaffolding and heightening longevity.
2018 The Factor
Shiraz; predominantly from Gomersal and Marananga, with Krondorf and Ebenezer. Matured 24 months in 40% new French oak barriques. The compact density and reverberating power that define The Factor are on grand display in 2018. Deep, penetrating layers of concentrated black fruits of all kinds meld with licorice and rich dark chocolate oak. For all its proportions, it upholds impeccable vitality and brightness. Tannins rise to the challenge in a surge of fine-grained, crafted presence. An exemplar of greatness at the big end of the Barossa.
2018 The Growers Cut Shiraz
From a single vineyard in Marananga. Matured 18 months in well-seasoned French oak barriques. This label represents the standout parcel of a Torbreck grower for the year. Engineered for the long haul, it's a Marananga shiraz endowed with grand concentration of both fruit and structure. Black fruits of all kinds are tightly wrapped in a thick blanket of tannins, strong yet superfinely polished. Lingering persistence declares both distinction and endurance.
92/8% shiraz/viognier. From a single vineyard in Marananga, planted 1994. Co-fermented, then matured 20 months in seasoned French oak barriques. Torbreck's baby RunRig shows the full presence of viognier in 2018, lending subtle tropical and apricot nuances and a fragrant lift to the power and depth of shiraz. The density and concentration of the warm, dry 2018 season are well captured in impressive, compact black fruits and licorice. Dark chocolate and coffee-bean oak holds a long finish on rails of firm, enduring tannins.
2018 Hillside Vineyard Grenache
From a single estate vineyard of dry-grown bush vines in Lyndoch, planted 1949. Matured 18 months in French oak foudre. Signature Barossa grenache, carefully executed in a strong season. Elegant red berries and spice are accurate and captivating, but it's the supple mouthfeel and intricate texture that really stand out here. Perfectly ripe, polished red cherry liqueur is impeccably set off by the creaminess of large oak foudres. Tannins sit so comfortably that you'd forget they were here at all, yet they hold a very long finish.
2019 Hillside Vineyard Shiraz and Roussanne
93/7% shiraz/roussanne from Lyndoch, rousanne skins and shiraz co-fermented. Matured 14 months in seasoned French oak foudre. Inspired by co-fermenting shiraz and viognier, demonstrating that roussanne is equally adept at the counterintuitive art of deepening the colour of shiraz to a profound black purple. Violets and spice elevate a dense core of satsuma plum, compact blackberries and fresh, warm licorice straps. Grand density, magnificently structured with a burst of fine tannins. Depth for dollar is off the scale, with integrity that many Barossa shiraz wines (with another digit in the price tag) could only dream of.
2019 The Gask
From a single vineyard. Matured 18 months in second-fill French oak barriques. The depth of colour of Ian Hongell's shiraz is something to behold, embodied in this deep, vibrant purple thing. Signature Eden Valley blackberries, mixed spice and violets with an undercurrent of pronounced, fine tannins and tangy, bright acidity. Promises to hold long and strong in the cellar.
2019 The Struie
From vines averaging 50yo, 92% from Barossa Valley western ranges, 8% from Eden Valley. Matured 20 months in 20% new French oak barrels. A show stopper. Profound, luminescent black purple. A compact, dense singularity of satsuma plum, blackberry and licorice, framed in a confidently hewnshell of fine, mineral tannins and well-executed dark chocolate and coffee bean oak. Coiled up tight, all it asks for is time to unravel and build on the finish.
2019 The Steading
60/21/19% grenache/shiraz/mataro sourced from 40-150yo vines across 7 districts spanning the Barossa floor. Matured 20 months in French oak foudres. Beautifully crafted, polished, seamless Barossa GSM. Bright and deep in colour and personality. Blessed with the expansive, effortless character that comes from maturation in large oak foudre. All 3 varieties and oak unite in seamless coherence, guided by super-fine tannins through a long finish. Impossible to corner as fruity, savoury, herbal, peppery, spicy, fleshy or dry, it's consummately all of the above.
2020 Eden Valley Viognier
From Knight and Vaughn vineyards. Detailed and intricately crafted are not words often associated with viognier. Plucked at a refreshing moment in its ripeness curve, it's themed with apple, pear and crunchy apricot. Wild fermentation and 8 months' maturation in 60% new French oak barriques brings out enticing biscuit/toasted almond complexity. It remains astonishingly pale, considering. Soft acidity, well-toned phenolic texture and creamy mouthfeel unite in harmony. It holds with impressive determination and persistence, promising great things in the years to come.
Barrel fermentation in used oak has helped broaden the base for long term development. You can taste the wild honey that will intensify with age, and feel the acidity that will remain the key to the future.